Watch this new documentary on the racist, ineffective war on drugs

Despite recent legalization successes in the Northwest, the U.S. war on drugs is still going strong–and new documentary Breaking the Taboo makes the urgent case for ending the racist, ineffective battle in under an hour.

The film, directed by Cosmo Feilding Mellen and Fernando Grostein Andrade (and gloriously narrated by God Morgan Freeman), traces the history of the drug war through compelling interviews and news clips and follows the recent efforts of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

The Commission and documentary have brought together some big names–including sitting and former presidents of the U.S., Switzerland, Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, and Brazil–to call for the end of the policies that many of them once supported. Even Bill Clinton can recognize that, whatever his aims when he supported the drug war, “it hasn’t worked.” That may be a politically unpopular opinion, but the documentary seeks to prioritize justice and evidence over partisan fears of looking soft on crime.

If you’re looking for more after finishing the film, check out Eugene Jarecki’s The House I Live In, another new documentary about the drug war, and his interview with The Nation. The transcript of the latter provides equal parts history lesson, policy platform, and inspiration. On Colorado and Washington’s legalization of marijuana and California’s vote to reform its draconian “three strikes” law last month, Jarecki says:

I think these are small victories, and I think we have to be very careful not to let small victories woo us into any sense of false comfort. We need a revolution in the war on drugs. We need to absolutely throw this thing out, relegate it to the ash heap of history and start again with real information about what drugs really do, about how they affect human health and about what to be afraid of and what not and how to treat people… A small victory like this doesn’t do that, but it does show that the system is vulnerable.

Washington, DC

Alexandra Brodsky was a senior editor at During her four years at the site, she wrote about gender violence, reproductive justice, and education equity and ran the site's book review column. She is now a Skadden Fellow at the National Women's Law Center and also serves as the Board Chair of Know Your IX, a national student-led movement to end gender violence, which she co-founded and previously co-directed. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she is the co-editor of The Feminist Utopia Project: 57 Visions of a Wildly Better Future. She has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice at campuses across the country and on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, ESPN, and NPR.

Alexandra Brodsky was a senior editor at

Read more about Alexandra

Join the Conversation